In Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy there’s a scene where Arthur Dent almost gets everybody blown to piece by asking the spaceship he’s on to make him a cup of tea, using the on-board food synthesizer.
And it would seem that it’s an idea that isn’t so far-fetched after all. The synthesizer, that is, not the getting blown up in space. Although, you could probably try that in the near future as well – just imagine one of Richard Branson’s Virgin Spaceships straying over North Korea…
And it’s not only in outer space that the synthesized food could prove a hit and provide sustenance. Actually, if the science and technology currently being tested by Systems & Materials Research Corporation proves successful, it could become a weapon in the fight against world hunger.
Systems & Materials Research Corporation recently won a six month, $125,000 grant from NASA to create a universal food synthesizer.
The grant has been given to test if the system would be able to feed astronauts on long flights to other planets, including a mission to Mars.
“Long distance space travel requires 15-plus years of shelf life. The way we are working on it is, all the carbs, proteins and macro and micro nutrients are in powder form. We take moisture out, and in that form it will last maybe 30 years,” Anjan Contractor from Systems & Materials Research Corporation says.
His long-term goal is to see the system in every kitchen, feeding people by printing out customized, nutritionally sound meals on what is essentially a 3D printer.
So far his team has released a few details about the project, including a video showing what must be the coolest way ever to make a chocolate biscuit: